Argentinian referee Horacio Elizondo has spoken for the first time about the World Cup 2006 infamous clash between French captain Zinadine Zidane and Marco Materazzi.
Retired Elizondo spoke about the incident during a TED talk in the most candid manner, going in specific details on how he chose to send Zidane to the dressing room.
With no VAR being used back then, and with the stadium’s screens showing the incident, everyone thought that Elizondo saw the replay and decided to show the French ace a red card, but he denied such claims with his description of the incident.
“I saw Materazzi lying on the floor. I was a good 30 or 40 meters away. As I got close, I asked my two assistants if they had seen anything. Both of them told me they didn’t notice what went down,” Elizondo said.
“Then, my ‘guardian angel’ spoke to me via our intercommunication system. Fourth referee Medina Cantalejo saw it all and told me: ‘Zidane head-butted Materazzi’s chest! You really need to send him off!’ I didn’t believe him at first, but he urged me to take action. ‘When we get to the hotel, you’ll see it. You will regret it if you don’t send him off. It was unbelievable,’” Elizondo recalled.
The retired referee concluded his presentation by stating that Medina’s narration of the incident was so passionate that he decided to listen to his words. Furthermore, he revealed that if he had taken it a tone down, he might have let the incident slip.